Superstition Kills: A Must-See Video

What’s wrong with superstition? Sometimes, it can make gullible people believe that something other than themselves controls their lives. But in the worst of scenarios, it can kill.

We’ve already seen religious superstition do that in the case of Madeline Neumann when her parents denied her the medicine she needed because they felt God would take care of it. Madeline died at the age of 11.

It’s even more brutal in places like Kenya, where superstitious beliefs have led to the worst of crimes: in one case, burning people alive because they were accused of witchcraft.

I tend to wonder how anyone could believe such nonsense… but when you lack any critical thinking skills, it’s easy to buy into the rumors and lies that people spread.

Henrik Thomé has created a powerful 30-minute film exploring the power of superstition in India.

Thomé is led by Babu Gogineni, director of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, to a village where a woman was murdered for — take a guess — being accused of witchcraft. Her family explains what happened:

SuperstitionKills

As it turns out, the murdered woman is also a member of the (unofficially) lowest caste — the dalits (a.k.a. the “untouchables”). Dalits are often the victims of such crimes.

The video also features an anti-superstition activist. He performs some magic tricks (with explanations) in front of children to try and break them of their belief that something unnatural is taking place. Later on, another similar activist puts a man on a bed of nails and “walks on fire” — again, to show these are not acts of the devil, simply illusions that anyone can do. I sympathize with their efforts. I’m not sure how many people they are reaching, but they are to be applauded for their efforts.

You *must* watch this video:

(via Nirmukta)

  • http://virtualityforreal.blogspot.com Allytude

    Could not bring myself to watch it But I am not surprised. Worse things have been done by the truly religious than by any other group.

  • trufru

    This sort of witch-killing is very common in some of the socially and economically backward villages in India. Some vested interest wants the victim killed for a completely non-religious reason and spreads rumours that he/she performs black magic.

    Forget about backward villages. I find it even more appalling that a lot of *educated* Indians are superstitious. Almost everybody believes in astrology, there are lots of “gurus” defrauding people,… the list is huge. As an atheist Indian, I find the situation really disheartening.

    There were a few scientists in ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) who used to take miniature models of rockets to temples before satellite launch… Incredible!

    http://www.hindu.com/2006/07/12/stories/2006071203640200.htm

  • Santiago

    Amazing that this is going on in India, that there are humanists that are opposing all these superstitions that are used to justify atrocities is tremendously uplifting. We are not alone, it seems, and there are many more of us than you’d imagine.

  • http://www.ethicalfocus.org/index.php?mpage=34/Free_Will.htm VeridicusX

    This documentary by Henrik Thomé is excellent!
    Certainly worth watching. It makes me wonder if there is anything reasonable people can do to challenge these fake “healings” perpetrated by “healing evangelists”.

  • Will

    That was a great video. I hope that they can do some real good for the people of India.

  • Devysciple

    I feel very sad for the woman and her family from the beginning of the clip. It totally reminds me of what was going on in Europe a few hundred years ago.
    But it was also very uplifting to see people fighting against such harmful superstitions.
    Now imagine a world in which every child has access to education, and in which there are classes like the ones depicted in every school. That could one day blow religion out of the water for good.
    Thanks for posting this, and kudos to all people around the globe fighting harmful superstition!

  • Rest

    Kudos to the humanists and rationalists working to eliminate superstition in India. Watching the kids react so joyfully to the science demonstrations was delightful. Hopefully their work will open and change minds, but, unfortunately, the purveyors of superstition are a much bigger force and won’t easily be eradicated, if ever.